A scientist advising the Government on coronavirus response has warned against making the same mistakes as last summer.
Neil Shaw www.devonlive.com
Professor Stephen Reicher, from the University of St Andrews and a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) subcommittee on behavioural science, said the country was in danger of repeating last summer’s mistakes.
He told Times Radio: “My fear is that we’re on line to repeat the mistakes of last summer – if you remember, the Prime Minister told us it was our patriotic duty to go to the pub, that people should go to work or they might lose their jobs, we had eat out to help out.
“The consequence was we never got infections low enough to be able to deal with the disease and so when conditions changed in the autumn, when schools went back and people went back to work and universities went back and the weather got worse and we went inside, so infections spiked.
“And I think this time round, we should learn from that and we should get infections low to a point where we we’re in a much better place in the autumn, where we don’t have to reimpose restrictions.
“So I think the real question is how can we do that without inconveniencing people too much?”
He said test and trace was still not working properly or contacting people quickly enough, and pointed to the lack of support for people to self-isolate.
He added: “It seems to me that if we got right the basic public health moves to suppress infection, we wouldn’t be talking about a high reservoir of infection which can then spike very quickly when conditions change.”
Professor Reicher said he believed vaccines had weakened the link between cases and hospital admissions but it was not broken.
He told Times Radio that “vaccination has made a huge difference but the danger is if we overstate it, and we over-rely on it, actually we undermine all its good effects”.
He added: “So it’s belt and braces, of course vaccination makes a difference but it doesn’t mean you forget about everything else.”